Six strategies to get the team your company needs

May 21, 2012 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

There is something different about an individual who plays to be indispensable. There is an unmistakable level of engagement and tenacity that keeps such people at the forefront of darn near everything in their sphere of influence. They give it their all, play hard, and play to win. More importantly, they play hard because they want to. They take ownership in creating the right outcomes – without being asked. “Indispensable” means that you wouldn’t want to run your company without them.

On the flipside, there are players on your team who are dispensable. They occasionally, rarely or never step up. They show up, do their job and go home. They expect more for doing the same average performance, and even for doing less. In more deteriorated cases, their view and relationship with the company becomes adversarial, or at best, indifferent. It’s a scary question: How many dispensable players do you have on your team?

Indispensable players are true company assets, but there are other factors and forces at play in every company that inspire or degrade “indispensable” thinking, behavior and performance.

Here are six no-compromise strategies to inspire team players to be indispensable:

  1. Culture lifts everything: As a business consultant, I run into contaminated cultures all the time. I’m referring to all the funk, drama, double standards and entitlement thinking that sucks the life out of a company. On the other hand, dynamic cultures harness the collective energy of a team and give it lift and energy. Employees want to work there. They feel inspired to perform and achieve. Playing to be indispensable isn’t just an expectation – it’s embedded in the thinking and behavior of the company. Do a reality check on the current state of your company’s culture. If you don’t see people playing to be indispensable, you’ve got a culture shift waiting for the starting gun.
  2. Being part of something big: I’m a true Aquarian. I’m a flag waver. If I’m not fighting for a worthy cause, I’m miserable and it shows in everything I do. People play harder for causes they believe in. People step up and do the extraordinary because they want to help push the company one notch closer to its goal and vision. People fight to survive, to win, to achieve, to reach their full potential and to be part of something big. What’s your company’s “something big”?
  3. Expressions of appreciation: Relentlessly stepping up and doing what needs to be done can turn to indifference and resentment when “indispensable” efforts are taken for granted. No-compromise leaders take the time to say “thank you” and show appreciation. The reality show “Undercover Boss” is the perfect example. Every episode has a company leader working “undercover” alongside employees and discovering how the company is taking indispensable employees for granted. When the leader is finally revealed, employees are finally appreciated and rewarded. The common “ah ha” that each boss discovers is the need to engage with employees at all levels and show appreciation. When was the last time you put some real effort into bonding one-on-one with your employees?
  4. One playbook: Conflicting agendas, mixed messages and poor information flow sap energy from a company. People play harder to be indispensable when everyone around them is pushing and pulling the company in the same direction. Information flow is one of the drivers in business. People can’t play to win if they don’t know the score. Count the playbooks in your company. If there’s more than one playbook, pick one. If you can’t find one, you’ve got bigger problems.
  5. No dragging anchors: I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time staying enthusiastic and pushing forward while some people are perfectly fine kicking back and watching their teammates do the work. If you’ve been dragging anchors, it’s time to cut them loose. No compromise.
  6. Beware of compromise: If you see a problem in your company and do nothing about it, I call that “compromise.” Compromise contaminates business cultures and dials down the ability and enthusiasm of key players striving to be indispensable. Compromise begins and ends with the company’s leaders. Where does compromise flourish in your company?

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Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up , Staff Retention , Teamwork

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  1. Hi Neil,
    You may remember I spoke at Arrojo Expo in New York!
    Let me start by saying I love your book NO- Compromise it is a easy read and simply to understand and apply when you take on the attitude and mind set of “No- Compromise”.
    Systems are easy to say you have but not easy to follow sometimes. In the last 2 years I would say it has become easier for me to exercise boundaries within myself and organization because I have had some sort of outline to follow “systems” that have really allowed me to focus on the “Being a part of something BIG” which a team seems to respond to like you have talked about this morning in the Wake- up email!

    My favorite thing in your book is” What is your company flag” I remember designing a family crest in high school that described my story and who I was. This is a great way to really have a visual that represents the culture of your salon or business!

    Thank you for the Monday morning wake-up it is exactly what I needed to wake up with to carry me through the day ahead!

    I really enjoyed your delivery at Expo! I thought you did a excellent job and I love your style…I grew up with a family of Lawyers where very little “grey” lives in a conversation so you definitely are talking my language! Very Inspiring and engaging. Thank you for your leadership and passion it shows through your presentations and in the book! Great cover and love the simpicity of the pages, Each page is filled with an abundance of value!

    Heart,Mind& Hair,
    Karen Covington
    Lava Hair Studio

  2. Hi Karen,
    Thank you for the kind words…ALL THE KIND WORDS. I do love what I do and I too am honored and inspired to be able to help business owners reach that elusive next level.
    – Neil

  3. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for always jump starting my Monday.I think fear of turnover always drives compromise.You would think that after 38 years of owning salons I would know better.Three years ago a toxic partner took 38% of our business and moved to another salon,Doubling down on my no compromise to myself and my company was the only thing that saved us.It took some time to come out of the fear zone after being that close to the edge .The no compromise zone is the only way.

    Thanks Neil,
    Lynn Leo
    Leos on Chocolate Salon and Spa

  4. Hi Lynn,
    Leading the “No-Compromise Zone” is the toughest work a leader can do. It’s where extraordinary progress and breakthroughs occur. Fear and uncertainty keep you honest … even in the No-Compromise Zone. But allowing fear to paralyze you is a compromise. You worked through it. Even after 38 years, you worked through it. And you’ll never allow yourself or company to come that close to the edge ever again.




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